The 3 reasons why the 2018 Budget is so depressing for the Left

By   /   May 19, 2018  /   14 Comments

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When the Leader of the Opposition can claim on TV that ‘trickle down’ works, you know we are a country still in the grip of neoliberal culture. The Left has become so distracted by Identity Politics they don’t have an economic class response to counter neoliberalism and Budget 2018 is the perfect example of this.

When the Leader of the Opposition can claim on TV that ‘trickle down’ works, you know we are a country still in the grip of neoliberal culture.

There’s a lot that is positive in this budget, let’s not allow the perfect to eclipse the good here, but we also need to acknowledge that the budget is just lite blue and no where close enough to where progressives needed it to be.

Why?

1: Neoliberal nightmares of yesteryear

We all want to forgive Labour for destroying NZ with their neoliberal revolution in the 1980s, but if we were honest about the Helen Clark years, they were just a continuation of the neoliberalism of Lange without the radicalism. Because the Left have intellectually been decimated by neoliberal identity politics that erodes solidarity, there is no actual intellect on our side who can counter argue the impact of neoliberal economics, and if there were someone who could, the chances are they would be a white cis-male and that wouldn’t be acceptable to the current progressive diaspora. So we are adrift working under the hegemonic structures of the free market with no intellectual economic counter punch the way Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn have managed. We had hoped Jacinda would be a break from that neoliberal hegemony, this budget shows we aren’t even ready to formulate a counter argument against neoliberalism yet.

2: The Government is still not in actual control of the levers of power

Because Labour believed they had lost on election night, and because the entire Jacinda experiment was cobbled together at the last minute, no one on the Left was actually planning what needed to be done the very second they became the Government. There was no and is still no decisive plan to purge the public service of the right wing acolytes who pollute every level of it and make it such toxic environments. This Government still has no idea of how to push reform through the right wing public services and are so terrified of annoying the PSA they are impotent. The only Party who understands this dilemma are NZ First. To think a progressive Government could get policy through right wing public services is delusional and we see that in this budget.

3: The global economy is about to meltdown, climate change catastrophe is brewing and there is a looming magnitude 8 earthquake due

The one area where Grant can be congratulated is in holding back cash for the rainy day that everyone believes is coming. The next global financial crisis will be a depression, just think about that for a moment. Neither Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials have ever experienced a depression, they have no point of reference for such an enormous event. You think Millennials bitching about micro-aggressions and the price of avocados on toast is annoying now, wait till real economic pain occurs. Likewise we have a magnitude 8 earthquake due and the anomalies that can be caused by climate change from extreme flooding to extreme drought need to be factored in. This budget gives the new Government some breathing space when the shit really hits the fan.

This budget highlights the Left in NZ don’t have the intellectual firepower to counter the neoliberal hegemony and that the levers of power within Government are still held onto by a right wing public service the Government are too frightened to upset (Labour’s capitulation on TPPA is evidence of that). Labour have attempted to inoculate themselves from a racist backlash by taking funding for Māori and reinvesting it into universalisation of services but when those right wing universal services are so crooked, it’s a hard sell. The one saving grace is that Grant has prepared the country for the next shit storm, it is my argument that when that shit storm hits, we will see Grant, Jacinda and Winston rise to the occasion. 

When the Leader of the Opposition can claim on TV that ‘trickle down’ works, you know we are a country still in the grip of neoliberal culture. The Left has become so distracted by Identity Politics they don’t have an economic class response to counter neoliberalism and Budget 2018 is the perfect example of this.

 

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14 Comments

  1. Denny Paoa says:

    Well, some of the “intellectual Left” are and have become the establishment and are sitting on the fence! They believe they’ve done enough over the years, but they wont give “it” up because the believe they deserve some payback. – So they’ve joined the,”Pigs at the Trough!”

  2. Aaron says:

    Running a surplus is all very well but every year it happens the net result is to shrink the economy because the government has effectively taxed more than it has spent. That’s not how you prepare for anything.

    Mainstream economics is basically fraudulent with the super-rich having promoted a style of economic management that suits them but has the long term effect of destroying economies. Nothing will change until things have got so bad the the population rises up and demands something different.

    The worst thing about Labour is they actually run the country better than National (who run a pure plunderers economy) with the result that Neoliberalism is now going to drag on even.

    Looking back I wish Don Brash became PM in 2005 because he would have done a rip-roaring second neoliberal revolution, the population would have been incensed and banished neoliberalism and National to political graves.

    Instead we had Key doing the same amount of damage (but at a slower rate) and the country is still in the grip of this nonsense.

  3. Sam Sam says:

    It was said that the John Key, Bill English budgets were Labour lite because they continued Labour policy. I submit that this budget is fully rose red.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      “We had hoped Jacinda would be a break from that neoliberal hegemony, this budget shows we aren’t even ready to formulate a counter argument against neoliberalism yet.”

      Yes martyn, the term “lets do this” was just a hollow statement sadly we now now.

      So she will have lost some party faithful here sadly.

      We all did hope she would turn this “neo-Liberal experiment” on tit’s head and roll it out the door into a big hole and bury it finally.

      She did not and time will mark her if she does not do it.

  4. Marc says:

    Good post, at least some realise that REAL change is necessary, not a bit of budget announced sprinkling of cash here and there.

    Sadly, the bulk of the population is so tied into, or even hooked into, the capitalist dream fabric, they continue to work 40 to 70 hours a week, some in two to three jobs, trying to ‘get ahead’, competing with each other for the morsels to their avail.

    They rather stab each other in the back, if they feel someone does not ‘pull their weight’, than get an understanding of what one man called Parnell once managed to introduce and make the rule of working hours.

    We have employment law that has changed little, improved little, and we still have endless employers cut short corners and use all kinds of tricks to become ‘more competitive’, even child labour:
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/child-labour-in-new-zealand-not-only-a-thing-of-the-past-although-not-widespread-alive-and-well-in-nz-in-2018-special-post/

    Yes, stuff stand in statutes on paper, but only recently has there been reports of people working 15 or 30 or more minutes a day extra, without pay, for their bosses, as they were too afraid to raise the issues.

    And it is still happening.

    With neoliberalism, or outright ruthless capitalism, or whatever you call it, still well and firmly in place, nothing much will change.

    The ones that hold the power, supported by the body of law, designed for exactly that purpose, are property and business owners, are financiers and basically old style CAPITALISTs. The government we have is under the existing framework left little room, only allowed to offer some tweaks here and there, and fumble at the edges.

    As most are so resigned, or indifferent, or even themselves selfish, hoping they may win Lotto, nothing will change. Divide and rule continues, every election the MSM sets the narrative about fake topics and issues, who may or may not tell the truth, and who ‘deserves’ or not the treasury benches.

    Forget the rest, this is called fake democracy, fake this and that, we may as well resign, or take action, but who has the guts to take some real action?

  5. mosa says:

    This post is depressingly accurate.

    I struggle to find a real progressive alternative that does have the intellectual firepower and charisma of a Lange or Kirk , quite frankly it does not exist in this country.

    I voted Green for the policy mix and giving them the support needed for an MMP parliament and possibly play a constructive role in a governing arrangement.
    They are the closest we have to a non leo lib approach but dont have the influence to change anything major.

    I was hoping another party would form with a leader and resources to push a real alternative to the current economic system but i don’t think kiwis would be angry or passionate enough to care.
    They will take the scraps from the coalition table and buy in to the right wing response and negative news soundbite about how John Keys brighter future has been stolen away from them should it ever have arrived in the first place.

    Yeah you are right Martyn about the right wing and the trouble is they are entrenched , powerful and not going anywhere.

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      ‘I was hoping another party would form with a leader and resources to push a real alternative to the current economic system but i don’t think kiwis would be angry or passionate enough to care.’

      Many have tried. All have failed because the corporate media are in control of public perception. And the corporate media are only concerned with short-term profits founded on exploitation and misrepresentation.

      It is now too late to turn anything that matters around: a global economic collapse is coming because of the failure of governments to plan for Peak Oil. And that collapse will be accompanied by a global environmental collapse that is a consequence of industrial humans desequestering humungous amounts of ancient carbon.

  6. let me be frank says:

    Whether we like it or not iy has to be acknowledged that the world is run upon neoloberal lines (currently) and we are a bit player constrained by this sad fact….consider the intent of those leading us and ask yourself whos intentions you’d desire when the SHTF as you assess this budget….

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/18/argentina-forced-to-seek-imf-aid

    ….corks on the sea.

  7. Quicksilver says:

    Agreed Martyn. You’ve correctly identified some of the impediments this govt. faces. And trying to turn the Titanic away from the iceberg when the crew threatens mutiny is a heck of a situation it finds itself in.

    But perhaps the next catastrophe WILL be the circuit breaker required to finally jettison the failed neoliberal model?

    The Shock Doctrine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine), but in a different, more socially and environmentally beneficial economic direction.

  8. Johnnybg says:

    As you’ve made quite clear, there is no left anymore. All we have is a bunch of deluded individuals & a few old school armchair lefty commentators sniping away from the safety of their comforts zones. Whats really lacking in this God forsaken land is A COHERENT, RADICAL, UNIFYING VISION & SOLIDARITY. But before this happens things must get much worse than they are today. Only when a large swathe of our population is shaken out of its complacency & our comfortable little lifestyles come tumbling down will a tipping point emerge, so bring no the doom & gloom.

  9. WILD KATIPO says:

    Sorry about the non post as that was a test to see if the Blog was still operative at 2.54am.

    Well , you’ve hit the nail on the head , Mr Bradbury. At least in regards the Left. But its nothing I and others haven’t said for a very , very long time.

    We see now identity politics for what it is and always was , – a construct by ‘infiltrators’ of the far right wing. The ‘ Tokyo Rose ‘ of the modern age. The roots of this ‘ identity politics’ actually go back further than the 1980’s,… it started off in the 1960’s and 1970’s ,…when the far right realized the social changes afoot and started to see ways to utilize those movements.

    And although it is a human phenomena that sees a radical movement become staid, bogged down and watered down as more people jump on the bandwagon… ‘ identity politics’ was more than that . It was deliberate – and used idealistic yet naive fools to carry out the task, those operating from honest motives, but totally misled.

    And as you said, the Left had no leaders with enough clout to oppose neo liberals so all they were left with was navel gazing , identity politics , arguing amongst themselves and further tearing strips off each other in pointless , perpetually outraged side issues.

    In short , – an absolute circus and caricature of what the Left was meant to be all about.

    The heyday of the Lefts ideals was no coincidence of being in a time of immediate destitution ( Great Depression followed by World War Two ) and the forming ( in NZ ) of a strong Union base. It was because of the economic theory’s of John Maynard Keynes and Micheal Joseph Savages adoption of it that we enjoyed a new egalitarianism , increasing wages and standards of living , a massive state housing build , and advance’s in essential infrastructure.

    And because of that , NZ was the 6th wealthiest nation on the globe, ( behind Denmark ) boasted a world class health and education system and were ahead of Australia in per capita wealth /income in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unemployment was virtually unknown , homelessness was unheard of and small children and adults didnt die of preventable third world respiratory illnesses in cold , moldy , damp derelict state houses because they couldn’t afford the privatized electricity bills.

    Roll on 1984 and Roger Douglas and his Mont Pelerin society far right wing directives and that all changed.NZ was ransacked, privatized and its SOE’s sold off to the lowest offshore bidders. The same spread the lie about ‘level playing fields’ and ‘competition bringing prices down’ .

    It was not long after the Lange/ Bolger govts that prices rose , wages fell through the floor ( Ruth Richardsons infamous Employment Contracts Act 1991 ) and long term exploitation of workers and chronic unemployment on subsistence wages began.

    Chris Trotter did an excellent article on Bowalley Road and here on the Daily Blog explaining how it was the private Unions that wanted a nationwide strike to oppose Richardsons Employment Contracts Act , but it was the Public sector Unions that opposed it… why?… obviously because of promises of greater riches for themselves if they did oppose it.

    ——————————————————-

    Ken Douglas, then president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, recalled in the 1996 documentary Revolution:

    … ” The Employment Contracts Act was deliberately intended to individualise the employment relationship. It was a natural outcome of the ideological propaganda of rugged individualism, of self-interest and greed and the appeal to individuals that you could find better for you by climbing over the tops of your colleagues, your mates, and so on. Ruth Richardson was very clear, very blunt, very honest about its purpose. It was to achieve a dramatic lowering of wages, very, very quickly ” …

    ———————————————————

    Ruthanasia – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthanasia

    Welcome to neo liberalism.

    Three decades on and after the neo liberal stooges have been enabled to embed themselves in our once egalitarian based institutions such as the PSA the takeover has become entrenched.

    We allowed them to , – as the military would say , – ‘ dig in’ .

    And NONE OF THIS , – has ANYTHING to do with ‘LAND RIGHTS FOR BEACHED WHALES !’ . And if we wanted ‘Land rights for beached whales’ badly enough we could have STILL achieved that under our former prosperous system.

    The far right wing were never interested in ‘Identity politics’.

    They used it and the people campaigning for those issues as useful tools, – and nothing more. And frankly ?

    If the people of this country earnestly seek corrective changes to this evil , pernicious ideology of neo liberalism , either one of two things will have to happen, …

    1/ A global worldwide economic crash along the same depth of magnitude as the Great Depression. Govts would be forced by the general unrest of its citizens to take drastic measures , – or else .

    2 / A renewed interest in the more than adequately chronicled historical genesis of the rise of neo liberalism in NZ, – detailing the deceitful treasonous rort that it actually was. In short , – it was theft on a grand scale.

    As for point two , it needs to be taken up again by those in positions of influence and hammered relentlessly until it has built an adequate groundswell and changes are demanded. Perhaps then we will start to see a ‘ purging’ of ideologues in our public sector and the ensuing freeing up of our govt’s to enact economic and social changes back towards a more equitable , egalitarian ideal.

    And yes, after that is achieved – if there’s time for it and we see a need for it , – we could even manage to campaign for Land rights for Beached Whales ‘ if we chose to.

    And as a starter- up for noobies to that process, – I always nowadays like to include this brief historic overview of NZ’s 3 decade social and economic decline , the reasons for it , – and the origins of neo liberalism in this country and the destruction it has caused…

    New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?
    http://www.newrightfight.co.nz/pageA.html

    Happy reading and enjoy !

  10. Mjolnir says:

    “You think Millennials bitching about micro-aggressions and the price of avocados on toast is annoying now, wait till real economic pain occurs.”

    Wasn’t that whole “avocados on toast” thing a meme from the Right in their attempt to trivialise Millenial’s justified grievances unable to purchase their own homes? The bullshit “smashed avocados on toast” was a distraction from the likes of Michelle Boag to make Millenials look like spoiled brats.

    We should be careful of parroting right wing rhetoric which is geared to dividing and conquering.